Black-White Differences in the Intergenerational Transmission of Education and the Role of Heterogeneous Middle Class Experiences

Megan Andrew, University of Notre Dame

A major aim of U.S. education policy is to reduce race-ethnic gaps, particularly between blacks and whites. While we have had some policy success in addressing these gaps (e.g., affirmative action policies), our success is circumscribed because their effects do not carry over to the next generation of black students, especially within highly educated black families. In this paper, we estimate the causal effects of parents’ educational attainments on their children’s education, including parents’ college attendance and completion using data from the PSID. While the black middle class has grown significantly, their status fundamentally differs from that of whites vis-à-vis income, wealth, community characteristics, and more. We hypothesize that these differences in middle class status help explain the weaker transmission of education within black families. We evaluate the role of several economic and social aspects of middle class status in black-white differences in the transmission of education.

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Presented in Session 200: Education and Social Mobility